The Second Agreement

The Second Agreement: Don't Take Things Personally
From The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. During the period of our education, our domestication, we learn to take everything personally. We think we are responsible for everything.

When you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts. You make something big out of something so little, because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong.

Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid. They are afraid you will discover that they are not perfect. It is difficult to take that mask off. The whole world can gossip about you and if you don’t take it personally you are immune.

You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.

The first agreement seems pretty easy compared to the second. We humans have survived for many millennia through teamwork and organization within a tribal structure. And our hierarchical position our tribe played a major role in the chances of our long-term survival. It is highly likely that the opinion of others from within tribe was a type of feedback indicating our standing. Negative feedback would surely initiate an internal reaction signalling us to take some kind of action in response.

And while today our standing in society can determine how much stuff we will be able to acquire, it doesn’t have nearly the same implications on our survival that it did in the past. Really not at all. And yet, the stress that builds up inside us because of our social standing, or lack of, is unnecessary and taking years off our lives down the road.

Jettisoning this unwanted anchor may be one of the most difficult things we can accomplish and may take a lifetime of effort, but if we take it in small enough bites we may reap the benefits sooner than we think. Just acknowledging, and accepting this idea is the first, but, most important step down this adventurous new path.

Take care and I’ll see you out there!